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Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: June 18, 2018
Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs

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as it was not recognized until the year 1899. They also began as sheepdogs.

As you can see, both breeds had similar functions - guarding and herding livestock - as well as origin dates and locations, Belgium and Germany. However, although the beginnings of the Belgian and German shepherds were similar, the two breeds diverged over the years.

In order to help you differentiate the two breeds, today at AnimalWised we will go over the main differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd dogs.

Belgian Shepherd varieties

There are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd, and they have very different characteristics from one another in terms of physical appearance even though they are genetically virtually identical. For this reason, the FCI regards them all as the same breed, the Belgian Shepherd, while the American Kennel Club and other similar organizations recognize the four types as separate breeds.

If you cross a pair of Belgian Shepherds with the same phenotype, the entirety or part of the litter can have a totally different phenotype to that of their parents, resembling another variety instead. The four Belgian Shepherd varieties include:

  • Groenendael Belgian Shepherd / Belgian Sheepdog (AKC)
  • Laekenois Belgian Shepherd
  • Malinois Belgian Shepherd
  • Tervuren Belgian Shepherd
Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs - Belgian Shepherd varieties

Groenendael Belgian Shepherd

This variety of Groenendael Belgian Shepherd, called Belgian Sheepdog by the American Kennel Club, is characterized by being black all over. Their hair is long and smooth except for the face. The Groenendael variety can have a small white "tie" mark on its neck or chest.

Groenendael Belgian Shepherds usually measure about 60 cm (24 in) to the withers and weight about 25 kg (55 lb), and females are slightly smaller. They live for around 12 or 13 years, but some are known to have lived longer than 18 years of age.

Experts believe that Groenendael Belgian Shepherds are not a popular breed for first-time dog owners because their overwhelming need to exercise requires space and special basic training.

Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs - Groenendael Belgian Shepherd

Laekenois Belgian Shepherd

The Laekenois Belgian Shepherd is quite different from the previous variety. It is the oldest Belgian Shepherd variety; years ago, in addition to shepherding, these clever dogs were employed guard expensive flax that was left in the fields to dry.

The Laekenois Belgian Shepherd is similar in size and weight to the Groenendael, but their coat is rough and frizzy, and it comes in different shades of brown with some white, often in tie-like markings as well. The fur on their head and face is curly.

During the two World Wars this variety of Belgian Shepherd served as messenger dog. Their life expectancy is similar to that of the Groenendael. Due their level of activity, it is better that they live in a rural environment, as in cities they can suffer from neurosis if they cannot let off steam with large amounts of active exercise.

Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs - Laekenois Belgian Shepherd

Malinois Belgian Shepherd

The Malinois Belgian Shepherd comes from the Belgian city of Mechelen, Malines in French, where they emerged in 1892. With similar features in weight and size to the other Belgian Shepherd breeds, Malinois differ in that they have shorter and harder fur on their body and face in different shades of brown.

The Malinois is a very active dog that needs lots of space to run free, as one of the characteristics of this variety is that it keeps the mentality of a puppy until it is 3 years old, and some even up to 5 years. This means that if it is not properly socialized and educated from day one, it could spend years nibbling the family's shoes. It is imperative that it can spend all that energy and so stay calm at home.

Malinois dogs have an alert and protective temperament, and they are highly intelligent and keen on learning. This has made this Belgian Shepherd variety very popular with armies and police forces around the world, and it's also used as a guardian, herd, service and protection dog. Of course, remember that such specific training must always be undertaken by a professional.

The Malinois variety is very affectionate with families, especially with children. However, this dog can get a bit too playful, and it may unintentionally hurt someone small. It is not recommended to keep a Malinois in an apartment.

Here you can learn more about caring for a Malinois Belgian Shepherd.

Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs - Malinois Belgian Shepherd

Tervuren Belgian Shepherd

The Tervuren Belgian Shepherd comes from the city of Tervuren, a town where the first specimens of this beautiful variety of Belgian shepherd were selected.

The morphology of this variety is very similar to that of the Groenendael Belgian Shepherd, but their soft and long coat has brown tones with some black areas. Their face has short hair and is bordered by a formidable beard that stretches from ear to ear.

It is a very active dog often used in surveillance, tracking drugs or bombs, disaster relief and defense. Tervuren Belgian Shepherds integrate very well in families, provided they have the space and time to train them and provide comprehensive activity that suits the requirements of such an active breed.

Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs - Tervuren Belgian Shepherd

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd can be traced back to its origins in 1899. Their physical characteristics are well known, as they are a hugely popular breed as pets, show dogs and working dogs.

German Shepherds are larger and heavier than their Belgian cousins, weighing up to 40 kg (88 lb). German Shepherds are remarkably intelligent, and they areeasier to train than the previously described breeds. Even so, they are a working breed, and they need to carry out some activity or purpose in order to stay happy and healthy. These activities can range from police work to visual aids for the blind.

A German Shepherd's temperament is very balanced provided that their genetic line is pure, because it is also one of the breeds where inexperienced breeders have made major mistakes. A German Shepherd that is treated like a lapdog is very likely to become neurotic and overly dependent on its owner. The life expectancy of this breed ranges from 9 to 13 years old.

Here you can learn more about the common diseases of German Shepherds; if you're considering adopting such a dog, take a look at our list of names for German Shepherd dogs.

Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs - German Shepherd

If you want to read similar articles to Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

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5 comments
Rating:
Jan Anthonisz
WILLOW-16.9 years old-The Most Beautiful Gal in the Whole Verld-MEMBER OF THE LOYAL FAMILY. Dog Bless to you all.
Rating:
Jan Anthonisz
They are ALL MEMBERS OF THE LOYAL FAMILY. Dog Bless. jan.anthonisz@live.com.aui
Geo CM
"Tervuren Belgian Shepherds integrate very well in families, provided they have the space and time to train them". Who's doing the training; the dog or the owner & family?
Rating:
Cheryl
Article was helpful. My tervuren serves as a mobility service dog. Have had him 6 months and am continuing his training. People are awed by how well behaved and how handsome he is. Yes, he needs to be kept busy and has a wicked sense of humor.




Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Cheryl,

Sounds like maybe you should send a photo of this handsome fella, we would love to see one!
Cheryl
Can’t send photo from my cell phone as site won’t accept it and I have no computer — had a friend try helping me but site rejected it. Sorry.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Cheryl,

We are unsure as to why your photo is not being accepted, but if it is rejected by both the mobile and desktop sites, it is likely to do with the file. Perhaps it is the wrong file type or it is too large a size?

Thank you for trying, please feel free to ask us anything if you would like to try again.
Janice Wilkins
I just got a Belgium/GERMAN Shepherd, so do you have any idea of what my puppy will look like in several months ⁉️She's black with Tan undercoat and socks ( feet ).
Administrador AnimalWised
We can't accurately predict the coloration of their coat, but we can be pretty confident they will be adorable!

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Differences between German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Dogs

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